Why were you attracted to consulting?
Karoline: It’s a high-paced environment, and I was also very much attracted to the fact that you usually work with younger people. Being able to travel is also very appealing. But for me, becoming a consultant is a bit of a coincidence – it was not something I was destined to be. It was very much a result of the education I took and the firms I encountered. In the last year of my Master’s it became clear to me I wanted to work in consultancy and combine it with the financial sector. Kirstein happened to be a good fit.
Andreas: The diversity of work is appealing – no two days are the same. We have a lot of different projects, working with different clients with different needs. You always have to put your mind to a specific client case.
What are the main personality traits and professional skills that you need to thrive in consulting?
Karoline: You need to like working in PowerPoint – it’s definitely your best friend. It’s important to have a drive, to love doing new things all the time. You also need to be proactive in the way you work and the way you are. You are surrounded by people all day long – both at the company level and meeting clients – and I think it’s important that you get fueled and energized by that. As you will interact with clients, it is also important to be an outspoken person.
Andreas: You also need to have creative thinking – to put your mind into a problem and help the client solve it. You should have credibility, to stand by what you communicate. You should also be able to communicate at all levels. When you work with clients, it’s not always only the CEO or the CIO you interact with; sometimes you also work with other parts of the client organization.
I felt very strongly towards Kirstein because it is a smaller company. You have an opportunity to influence the company, be a part of the decision-making process, put your personality into the company a bit more than you would have in bigger organizations where you are more like a small piece of a puzzle. At Kirstein, you discuss important themes with the CEO on a day-to-day basis. I liked being a part of the growth journey, of taking the company to a new level.
What was it that attracted you to Kirstein in particular?
Karoline: I felt very strongly towards Kirstein because it is a smaller company. You have an opportunity to influence the company, be a part of the decision-making process, put your personality into the company a bit more than you would have in bigger organizations where you are more like a small piece of a puzzle. At Kirstein, you discuss important themes with the CEO on a day-to-day basis. I liked being a part of the growth journey, of taking the company to a new level.
Andreas: The reason why I like working at Kirstein is precisely the fact that we are a small company with a very flat structure. You get a lot of responsibility. If you take the chance, you will be able to drive the projects yourself. You have the opportunity to excel and develop yourself, and also on a personal level. I also like the social aspect – it’s a young company, it feels like a family. We do a lot of things together, from Friday bars to going to an off-site trip – for example hiking in the Swiss Alps – where we get to know each other and develop both professionally and personally.
Karoline: On these trips, you get pushed a little to the limit which makes you a bit closer to your colleagues. You see them in a different environment and under pressure, and it brings us together.
What is your role? Who are your clients?
Karoline: We help and consult asset managers on how to grow their business in Europe. We work with asset managers on many different levels–can be operational bottom up, but could also be top-down with senior management. Usually we help clients define a go-to-market strategy for the region or specific countries. This can include mergers and acquisitions, product due diligence, matching supply and demand depending on markets and investor segments, finding the right distribution partner and much more. Our overall purpose is to help our clients become more successful in Europe.
We’ve worked with the top 50 of the largest asset managers in the world. Our clients span from large international managers to local banks or wealth managers in Denmark or in the Nordics.
Andreas: We also help smaller U.S. firms that would like to penetrate the European market. We consult on the demands in Europe and what European investors look for when selecting a manager. We as consultants have around 50 individual client assignments a year. Depending on the scope, sometimes you work on more client cases at the same time, but if it’s a sizable project, you dedicate all your time to that specific client.
The diversity of work is appealing in consulting - no two days are the same. We have a lot of different projects, working with different clients with different needs. You always have to put your mind to a specific client case.
Is it hard to progress through the company?
Karoline: If you do well, it’s quite easy – you will be rewarded and can step up quite quickly. Of course, there is a natural balance – as a smaller company, we cannot have 10 directors; we need analysts, consultants, and senior consultants. But you have the sight of where your progress leads, and you are updated by the management frequently on how well you are doing and if you are on the right path to your next promotion. If we look at the company’s senior management, there are people who started at Kirstein as students and then worked their way up.
Andreas: A nice thing that Kirstein can do for your professional and personal education is the fact that we have an office in Boston, and you can get the opportunity to take an internship there where you can meet U.S.-based clients. I’m going there for a three-month internship in April.
Karoline: Another thing that’s quite unique about Kirstein is that you are able to become a stakeholder in the company. It makes it more exciting – you are working with a combined vision that you are a part of yourself.
Do you have any advice for aspiring consultants?
Karoline: As a student, you can explore different opportunities. There are a lot of consultancy firms, ours included, which provide internships. Students are able to get a feel of what it actually is like to be a consultant. If I should advise my younger self, it’s something I would definitely do.
Andreas: It’s never too late to take a chance and see if it’s something that fits you. You can always go back and figure out what to do.